The 2005, updated version of Michael Scheuer's Imperial Hubris is the most important book that has been written to date about the war between the United States and the Islamists led by Osama bin Laden. It provides perspectives on the conflict that are completely missing in almost any other analysis of this war. It is an absolute "must read" for anyone concerned about the future of their world, that of their children and the future world of their children's children.
For example, Scheuer puts the question of "Why do they hate us?" into its proper historical context. The people of the Soviet Union could have asked the same question about "the mujahideen" who fought them so tenaciously and successfully in Afghanistan two decades ago.
And perhaps the people of the Soviet Union heard from their leaders at that time the same false explanations that Americans are being told today by our leaders: "They hate us for who we are and what we stand for." But the Europeanism, communism and even the atheism of the Soviet people were never of any concern to the ethnically and linguistically diverse Muslim insurgent groups that defeated the Soviet Union in the 1990s.
The mujahideen hated the Soviet people because they had attacked the three things Muslims love most their faith, their brethren and their land. These Muslims fought to keep the Soviet Union from usurping Islam in Afghanistan, from killing fellow Muslims and from physically destroying a Muslim country.
In other words, the mujahideen hated the Soviet people not for who they were but for what they had done. Its current war against the United States, Scheuer maintains, is the Afghan war of twenty years ago "writ large."
Scheuer next asks the question "Is it possible that Muslims perceive the U.S. actions in the Islamic world in a manner like that with which they perceived the Soviet actions in Afghanistan?" He then responds to his own question by saying that, "the objective answer must be yes."
In the eyes of most Muslims, America invaded, now occupies and effectively rules the Muslim states of Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States has also continuously and invariably backed Israel's occupation of Muslim Palestine.
America helped the United Nations create a new Christian state, East Timor, in Muslim Indonesia. Yet such independence is taboo for Muslim Kashmir, Muslim Chechnya and Muslim Bosnia. Furthermore, U.S. policy supports "oppression and aggression by Hindu India in Kashmir, Catholic Filipinos in Mindanao, Orthodox Christian Russians in Chechnya and Chinese communists in Xinjiang Province." America also supports "apostate" Islamic governments in Kuwait, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.
The United States has imposed economic and military sanctions on Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Iran and Indonesia. These actions have led to the deaths of thousands of Muslims, many if not most of whom were children.
In the case of Pakistan, the sanctions were imposed after that country developed a nuclear weapon. Yet in two countries where Muslims are in the minority India and Israel sanctions were never led or even suggested by the United States when those nations developed similar nuclear weapons.
Osama bin Laden is seen by most Muslims as leading a defensive jihad to rid the Islamic world of the United States and its allies, just as he helped lead the same kind of insurgency against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Although the United States is the focal point of this jihad, bin Laden and his followers have never expressed a desire to occupy and rule countries other than Islamic ones. In other words, they are over here because we are over there.
When put into this context, Islamic attacks on America can no longer be seen as acts of terrorism. They are acts of war and parts of the long battle Islamic jihadists intend to wage against the United States until they achieve their military and political objectives.
How long can such a battle be waged? Again, if the Afghan War against the Soviet Union is a precursor, this war will be waged until one side or the other is utterly defeated. The Soviets conduct in Afghanistan was incredibly brutal. The number of Afghans killed, wounded or exiled was enormous. Scheuer claims that, in proportionate terms, the Soviets inflicted more damage in Afghanistan than the Germans caused in the Soviet Union during World War II.
Yet the Soviet Union lost their war in Afghanistan. Islamic jihadists were willing to do whatever it took and use any weapons made available to them in order to defeat the outsiders who they saw attacking their religion, brethren and land.
Why should Americans expect those who continue to be led by Osama bin Laden as well as his tens of thousands of new followers to be any less committed to defeating the United States? We should be prepared for Islamic jihadists to do whatever it takes and use any weapons made available to them (including nuclear weapons and other instruments of mass destruction) to defeat America as they did the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
What, if anything, can be done about this horrendous situation? Scheuer suggests two alternatives: America can change its failed and counterproductive foreign policies or it must wage total war on Osama bin Laden and his Muslim followers in Islamic countries occupied by over a billion people. Since there is never any shortage of Americans ready and willing to instigate and support the second alternative, some of the rest of us might consider working to actualize Scheuer's first choice.
September 19, 2005